It had happened again. I had let the month pass me by without giving even a fleeting thought to my obligations. As I sat in my dark room with only a bottle in front of me, I thought to myself: How could I have been so careless?
I slammed back the Mountain Dew and leaned back in my chair.
It would have been easy for me to blame it on school. Running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to sign up for classes, buy books, and pay my dues—the start of a new semester is always a busy time. But, I knew it wasn’t the truth. The real culprit was videogames. And, that was exactly what this was all about.
Videogames. There was a review waiting out there with my name on it, but I was too busy playing to sit down and write. A sweet little dame had brought back an old addiction, recently; a game that was dead to me, but I kept playing anyway. Ragnarok—a game hardly worth the servers it runs on, and no game I’d ever want to review.
I sighed and took another swig. The stuff was flat and warm from the hours I’d been sitting there. The blinding white of the blank text file seemed even brighter—whether it was the caffeine or the dark room, I’ll never know. But, I needed something to satisfy the white beast, and the faster the better.
Franzen. Now there was a white beast. I downed the last bit of Mountain Dew and went to the window. Chief Franzen had been on my case since the first of the month. When it came to unbiased, comprehensive game reviews, his shop couldn’t be beat—not like those dime-a-dozen sell-outs that’d give The Amazing Virtual Sea Monkeys a top score for the right price. But, his accurate, entertaining reviews weren’t free, either. Some say you sell your soul to work for that man, but he’s the best in the business.
Soul or no, I’d already gone through five good paragraphs with no real review in sight. The last game I’d actually enjoyed was Shadow of the Colossus. Which is a great game, but it did me no good, as it’d already been reviewed. I thought back to the other games I’d played. I needed to find a good one—a game memorable enough that I could write a review without playing it.
I turned to my shelf. Stacks of games were strewn about like pop culture references in a Family Guy episode. I couldn’t go through all of that. At least, not without another drink. I took another Mountain Dew from the fridge and got to work.
Many of these games I’d already reviewed. 7th Saga. Faxanadu. Front Mission 4. Others I knew I had a special plan for, and I didn’t want to see them wasted on a gimmicky review like this. I had to find a game I knew like the back of my hand but didn’t mind giving the Travis Combs treatment.
The cold stuff was calling to me again, and as I reached my hand for the bottle, I knocked a cartridge off the shelf.
Illusion of Gaia. If I believed in destiny, I might have said that it was fate for me to find that game at that time. Instead, I chalked it up to dumb luck—but that’s not to say that I mind if luck’s on my side.
Any Joe on the street would likely tell you that this was a good game, but I couldn’t say that I agree. You can polish a shoe all you want, but it’ll still be just as dirty underneath as all the rest. This was the kind of review I was looking to make, and I knew that Franzen back at the precinct would be satisfied, too.
The game looked decent enough. Pretty good for its time, in fact. With large, detailed sprites and impressive animation, the artists were obviously worth their salt. But, too many rookies fresh out of the academy would be willing to close the case there, and I knew that this shoe had more dirt under it than that.
The sound and music had their time in the spotlight, but there were reasons why the fifteen minutes of fame came to an end. Not every song can be a real winner, and while the game had its share of hits, most players seem to forget about the misses. Not enough to be thrown in the slammer, but definitely not the squeaky clean record shown on the surface.
My real problem with Illusion of Gaia couldn’t be seen or heard; no, it had to be experienced. Too many kids these days are willing to pass the clams for sub-par gaming, but I wasn’t having any of that. While putting on a facade of creativity, the actual execution was lacking. The controls seemed to be developed as an afterthought to the larger system, in the end ruining what could have been a decent piece of work. Never a masterpiece by any means, the only way to go was down, and whatever was buried down there is stinking up the whole deal.
Combined with a story holding all the depth and creativity of an aging hippy, a half-cocked battle system is a fatal situation. Yet, even with the evidence adding up, the big-wigs in other departments are quick to point to worse cases and call this a success. Too quick to see the game for the hyped-up pile of wasted dreams that it is.
In the end, it’s probably not worth digging up an old file like this, but someone had to bring the truth to light. A day where justice can finally be brought to light is always worth a drink, in my book. Now, where did I leave that Mountain Dew….